Our Education Machinery, Efficient or Rusting!

Mir Muqadas Izhar

This is not a suppositious document to limit it to just understanding but something much more of a documentary of every single student studying in your school and rest of the schools of valley that I have tried to sum up as an Educational Activist. After having done enough research comprising of interviewing the subjects of almost ten schools, observing the psychological pattern and getting them to open up about every single difficulty they feel during their school time, which otherwise they would feel afraid of to tell to anyone, especially within the four walls of school. This plea is not exclusively aimed at you but to every single school of valley that has shown reluctance in rooting out the unoriginal theme of ‘Real Schooling’. As a responsible citizen, I reckoned it as my duty to spot light the woeful quandary of the students, who are undoubtedly, becoming victims of faulty education machinery that has acted no less than a catalyst in malfunctioning their psychological mindset.
The age old society we are living in is bound to undergo some changes to accommodate the thoughts, beliefs and attitudes of generations that live in it. But what remains constant all through is the value of each and every human being irrespective of whether he is poor or rich, a failure or successful, Hindu or a Muslim, Arab or American. Every living entity in this world is as meaningful as a cell in human anatomy that deserves a right to exist and get the equal treatment in all the man made institutions of planet, be it schools, hospitals or religious organizations. If this right is violated, by any means, it tantamount not only to violation of human principles but also to the death of conscience in the society, which is the only thing that differs homo-sapiens form other species of Earth. The Blue Planet has become more polluted due to human rights violation than the contamination of water, land and air. It doesn’t shock one if an industry or factory becomes a hub of snatching away human’s rights but it does raise one’s eyebrows if a school , where the efflorescent buds spend their most of the time, becomes a centre where students are subjected to extreme pressure, competition and turned into, I would rather say, virtual machines. Why is the school administration too stubborn in its strategies and policies to reason with the students regarding the problems they face in their day to day school life? Isn’t this a part and parcel of Effective Education. The true objective of education is to attain happiness, that not only encourages him or her to move forward in life but makes him ready to face every single hurdle with the motivation and encouragement, the lessons of which, ought to be imparted in school, but we get to see a different picture. The methods of teaching have become defective. The teacher has restricted himself or herself to just making his or her beingness known to the students. A teacher acts more like a rigid supervisor in class than a tranquil guide. The whole process of education system in Kashmir has so far been unsuitable, un-psychological, unprogressive with the school administration following the age old customary rules to tackle the schooling endeavors. The education given in our schools makes a student isolated from real life. It doesn’t give students insight into the everyday world they live in. The contemporary education fails to inculcate self confidence in students especially the ones that are labeled as ‘Backbenchers’ and ‘Dull’ , thus creating a class level prejudice and discrimination. Rather than knocking the weak students down with failure jibes, why doesn’t the teaching staff adapt a feasible approach that would yield a gradual improvement in their (student’s) academics. This method would serve many purposes viz., the overall productivity of school will show an upward trend, the teachers would be viewed as inspirations and not repulsive agents, the subject students would feel more attracted towards school than before. There’s no escaping the fact that good learning takes time. You can’t expect a student who has underperformed in his academics for years to become an all time genius in one or two months or so. Unfortunately, people are in a race to fast track everything, but learning is something that cannot usually be fast tracked. It has to be achieved in steps through the development of motivation, encouragement. Contrary to this, our schools in the valley use a different formula to boost student’s morale, which in turn yield sleeveless results. I can’t mention all my encounters with my subjects, but I would like to put forth some of the abominable experiences, students belonging to some schools (names withheld) have narrated to me. Below are the few:

  1. School, Just another Stress Infrastructure!
    One of the students of a school located in downtown (Shahr-e-Khaas) shares his experience “I am 15 years old and I find myself stressed every time I go to school. I think I am good being at home. I have no time for sports or hanging out with my friends as the schools administer so much of work to us as if they are giving us a month’s holiday. I think ‘hartals and holidays’ make me happier as I don’t get to go to schools. Do others of my age suffer the same way I do, he counter questions me. Many students that were being interviewed broke to tears while narrating their schooling experience. Isn’t this psychological torture of human lives and doesn’t it deserve a strong condemnation on humanity based forums.
  2. Using Calculators, An Intelligence Decider!
    Another similar example comes from a student hailing from North Kashmir, who alleges that his school censors the use calculators during exams. Now what kind of rationalness is this, for God’s sake? Like we can’t expect every branch on a tree to yield exactly same number of fruits. In a similar way, we can’t expect every student to be a human calculator. In the wake of getting the most out of a student, we are pushing them into the tunnels of depression, anger and cheating. According to a research done in the year 2018, a large percentage of adults across the world struggle with basic calculations.
    In developed countries like: The United States, England, Canada and Spain, four in every ten adults couldn’t do simple calculations even when they had calculator to use. What are we taking our students for; I think some extraterrestrial beings who are supposed to carry out every single task with the use of some flashy lights and unseen technology.
  3. Scoring 60% or less in boards implying no further career opportunities.
    A student who is now doing MBA outside state, shares his school history. “I used to be an average boy getting 50-60% marks on an average and I never got above that till my higher secondary exams. Yes, I was subjected to pressure both at my school and home that resulted in cropping up of suicidal thoughts inside me. I often cried in restrooms and my life started becoming like a hell. I cursed my school as much I could as it seemed like an opposing force around me. But, it’s highly painful to see the same thing going on even now in our schools. We are giving our children uncountable reasons to dislike the schools. Why don’t our schools become like we have in US and other foreign countries. I wonder why we haven’t changed yet. Is it some kind of an atrocious tribal tradition we are following. I get pained to see all this deplorable condition of our education system and schooling, as I have gone through what most of the school going children undergo nowadays. I want all this social injustice to end”.
  4. Over expectations from even a brightest student instead of necessary motivation time to time.
    I also got a chance to know about the school life of a10th standard student studying in one of state’s reputed schools, through her cousin. “My cousin was a favorite, not only in our family but in her school too. She was the most laughable person in the family and got mixed up even with elders. She used to get best grading at school every time and her tuition teachers were too pleased with her performance. But all this rhythm showed downwardness; she wasn’t what she used to be. Her academic performance was an all time low, her social behavior and eating habits denaturized drastically. Every socializing agent was astounded, though not too bothered. At times she used to get scolded in the family but things went on like that and no one appeared to care much about the reason behind the mysterious change in her. Then in the certain month of summer 2018, she collapsed abruptly on ground while on her way back home from school. She was ferried to local private hospital where she was diagnosed with slight anxiety for which some tonics along with some rest was prescribed. Yet again couple of weeks after, similar episodes of hallucinations began to crop up making the whole family get on the toes and struggle to find the answers behind child’s outlandish conduct. After having consulted various doctors, the ties of the tightly entangled knot began to loosen up as the child was diagnosed with GAD (General Anxiety Disorder). I along with my descent group were facing this word, GAD for the very first time and appropriate measures were taken to get back our family’s heartthrob to where she used to be. I don’t know how many children out there are facing the similar stuff but get a strict treatment instead of motivational counseling. ‘They are dying out there in silence, Help them’”, were his closing words.
  5. Education setup and policy all about syllabus completion only by hook or by crook.
    I have also interviewed some of the students, mostly the pass outs of many other schools since two and a half years and I recorded the most common responses. All of them alleged that there existed some policies in valley’s schools that make an average student succumb to pressure, for instance, less stress on extracurricular activities, lack of character building in students, absence of teacher-student relationship, unnecessarily extended class notes that seem too prodigious to be learnt even by intelligent students, leave aside the mediocre ones, censoring the use calculators during exams, herculean home tasks, lack of coordination between teachers, biased attitude towards dull students in class, absence of soft and encouraging approach etc
    No doubt, all the heads of respective schools , are accustomed to improve the quality of education of your school but while executing your holy duties you must be mindful of all the inaudible cries , pleas (of students) that roam from bench to bench, class to class like an unforgiving soul waiting to be heard and addressed. There’s is an example I am reminded of in here that goes like this. A person who is raised a slave doesn’t feel oddish while working tirelessly day and night as he is acquainted to such kind of life. But if a free normal being, who has had the real taste of life, is made to work for one day instead of the slave, he is going to surely feel ill – adjusted and may get haywire in frustration. Similar is the case with today’s children. They have been raised in a society where getting up early in morning, having a hasty breakfast, catching up the school bus with loads of weight on backs, attending the school for hours, taking tuitions, finishing class work, tuition work, oral work, this work, that work even after the mighty sun gets tired of enlightening the population, is considered a normality. I think, today’s students are much busier than their working parents. My Lord! The whole process seems much more excruciating than life imprisonment. But, they don’t feel any kind of foreignness while fighting all day long as they have been engineered like a slave mentioned in the above example, dragging their life the way they have been taught. What a sheer example of social injustice! Are we trying to make them better beings or training them to turn into slaves of conventionalism. It chills my blood to even think of the experiences the students go all through the day, from waking up till the bed time.

Author: Mir Muqadas Izhar, a student pursuing IMBA from ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY.